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Jill Dando assassin theory 'is nonsense'

The suggestion that Jill Dando could have been murdered by a Serbian assassin or underworld hitman was dismissed yesterday as "utter nonsense" that had no evidence to support it.

The suggestion that Jill Dando could have been murdered by a Serbian assassin or underworld hitman was dismissed yesterday as "utter nonsense" that had no evidence to support it.



Far from being a professional hit, the murder of Ms Dando, shot dead on the doorstep of her home in south-west London, was carried out in an amateurish manner, said Orlando Pownall, during the summing up of the prosecution's case at the Old Bailey.



He told the jury that Ms Dando's killer had been unmasked, ungloved and used a single shot from a modified handgun ­ "not the choice of a professional", he said, before adding: "It doesn't take a professional to come from behind a bush and shoot somebody in the head."



He said the evidence showed that the defendant, Barry George, was guilty and called on the jury to look at the evidence "as a whole". He insisted: "When taken together, this evidence leads irresistibly to guilt."



Mr Pownall argued that the idea that Mr George was a local eccentric brought out of the hat to satisfy public demand for someone to be brought to justice when the obvious candidate was a Serbian hitman ­ "is, we submit, utter nonsense".



A "stranger killer" was by no means an unknown phenomenon, he said.



"Unusual as they may be, there are some cases where there is no single motive. How could there be a reason for killing Jill Dando? Sadly, not everyone in the world is rational, logical and sensible. There is a dark, complex side to some people's minds which causes them to act in a dreadfully destructive way for no rational reason."



Michael Mansfield QC, for the defence, has claimed that the murder was a carefully planned operation, professionally carried out. He said a more likely explanation was that Arkan, a Serbian war criminal, ordered the killing to avenge a Nato bombing during the 1999 Kosovo war, or that it was ordered by a criminal angered by Ms Dando's role as a presenter of the television programme Crimewatch.



Mr Pownall responded by telling the jury: "Your instinct and common sense will tell you there was nothing about this shooting that involved professionalism. There is no evidence that the gunman was a Kosovan or Serbian. Why would such a person want to kill Jill Dando?"



They would risk alienating the public by killing someone so popular as her, he said. "What good would it do their cause? If the killing was a protest, why not claim responsibility?"



Mr Pownall also rejected the Crimewatch theory. "If you were found out by Crimewatch, you might reserve your anger for the police or those who telephone in and put up your name ­ the snitch or the grass ­ not the presenter." He urged the jury to reach their verdict on the evidence they had heard and nothing else.



Mr George, 41, of Fulham, south-west London, denies murdering Ms Dando on 26 April 1999. She was shot through the head.



The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph


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